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Friday, May 28, 2010
Questions on fans...
There have been questions on how I go about doing this, and I thought I'd take some time this morning (At HOME...sitting with a cup of tea...in my JAMMIES!) to show you how I work things. The pic you see above was a photo I sent to the Quiltville page on facebook, sitting there on the plane, quilting away, waiting to take off from St Louis to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta home. I quilted the whole way, and am making huge progress on Dreamsicles!
I started hand quilting fans when I lived in Idaho, oh....many moons ago! The first one I did was a block swap through interquilt, and the blocks I got were called "wind blown square." It was the perfect quilting pattern to add motion to this quilt. I still have it somewhere, and i know I quilted this at least 12 years ago? I know because it traveled with me on the plane (yes I've been doing it this long!) to Connecticut from Idaho to visit my brother....and he hasn't lived in Connecticut for over 10 years or so. Where does the time go?
That first batch of quilts with fans, either in the border, or over the whole surface of the quilt, I used stencils. I tried lots of ways to mark them, from blue marker, to purple marker, to schoolhouse chalk....it was a pain to mark them, really! I also once went so far as to take a strip cut from a sheet of plastic canvas grid...Mark the holes that I wanted to use to measure my arcs with a sharpie marker...and used that strip of canvas like a compass. It worked really well, but again I was still marking.
And let's face it. If you have to lay something out to mark it...it's not going to be that user friendly in a small space like an airplane seat. Being able to quilt without marking is my method of choice!
It wasn't until I got Gwen Marston's book "Quilting With Style" that I even thought about free-handing them, and my first few attempts were...ehhhhh??? And I gave up. I just wasn't that ready to go wonkily liberated yet....until I met Tonya!
I think the thing about free handing fans is that we forget to think about the whole surface of the quilt...we are just sitting there looking at one crooked one, next to another not so crooked one, and comparing them to each other, and we think it won't work. But you have to keep going! It's the texture and motion of the WHOLE SURFACE that matters, not how perfect each individual fan is.
One of the first things I figured out was that I was trying to make my fans too big with too many arcs to them. I limit mine at 5. In fact, 5 arcs gives me the perfect number to keep them moving continuously.
I start my quilting in the bottom right corner, working right to left because I am right handed. Lefties would probably do better working left to right from the bottom left corner.
I *DO* use a hoop. But my quilt is very loose in the hoop. When I quilt, I am not holding the hoop in any way...I have one hand on the underside of the quilt, feeling for the needle, and my right hand on the top doing the stitching. The hoop just rests in my lap and keeps me from having to grab and hold the quilt flat so I can stitch. Some prefer to go completely hoopless, so try it both ways. I'm a hoop girl.
Also...quilting from the OUTSIDE IN toward the center means you have to be basted VERY VERY VERY well. I baste my quilts by longarm with a huge stitch in a meander pattern. I remove the basting threads in each area as I quilt.
If you look at the corner of the pic above...you can see the first fan that started the whole process. I also thought it might help if I drew this with pencil on paper. You can draw it on paper too so you can get the feel of how things work, and how the fans just run off the edge in the direction you are going...and THEN you turn the corner. Like this:
The arrows show you the direction I am stitching. I go DOWN the first inner 1/4 circle, up the second, down the third, up the fourth, and down the 5th.
At this point...I travel my needle up through the layers so I can start the next fan in the same way...down the inner 1/4 circle, and repeat! Don't you love my Casper Wyoming twig pencil!! LOL Fun picking up souvenirs from where I've traveled! I think this one can only be sharpened by whittling...hehehe.
Here we are working toward that next corner..just keep repeating fans until you run off the end.
After I have gone off the side I've been working on....it's time to turn the corner and just start again where the last row ended!
Here I've reached another corner...straight off the edge. Sometimes I need to add another little line as if it were the "top arc" of the one that ran off the edge, just to fill in the space. Then head down the third side...are you getting it now?
At this point, I'm just going to keep going until this whole first round is completed. Once I've gone all the way around once, I start the second round, then the third, and on....until I've filled in the whole surface of the quilt. When I reach the middle, the fans are going to end where they end...just quilt to fill!
This is the BACK of the Dreamsicles quilt...it's a yellow toile! Can you see the pattern with the red thread? Quilting with contrasting thread is so fun. I mean, who wants to put in all this work if the quilting is not going to show? I'm in love with color, and quilting this orange quilt with red thread just makes me happy!
So...are you ready to try? Get out a piece of paper and just start drawing. I'm sure mine are different than some, but that's okay. Oh...and my stitching lines are about 3/4" apart. I just measured. You can make them as close together or as far apart as you like, again there are no rules....just texture texture texture! I like to think of fans as one of the "earliest" pantographs out there......seconded only by clam shells, and cross hatching that went over the entire surface. Quilts that were quilted this way tended to last a bit longer I think...because the stitches CROSSED the seam lines and that anchored them, adding strength. Well, that's my theory anyway. I've also seen applique quilts that SHOULD have fallen apart..but they didn't because the fans marched right across the applique holding it down. Yay fans!
Quipped by Bonnie K Hunter at 8:31 AM